Terrible cars you should not buy. Volume 1: SsangYong Musso
What is it?
The SsangYong Musso is a mid-sized 5 seater SUV, later a dualcab ute manufactured from 1993 to 2011.
It went by several names, such as Dadi Musso, Daewoo Musso, Mercedes-Benz Musso, Morattab Mussom, SsangYong Musso Libero, SsangYong MJ, TagAZ Road Partner and apparently SsangYong Korando Family, but I cannot identify the last one. It was produced in South Korea in 1993–2005, Vietnam in 1997–2005, China in 2001–2006, Iran in 2003–2007 and Russia in 2008–2011.
The general idea was for Mercedes-Benz and SsangYong to partner up and develop a cheap production car, then offer it through Mercedes-Benz dealer networks. This was not to be as Mercedes-Benz ended up buying Chrysler and thus Jeep, so they ditched the Musso project (it may have become a decent vehicle had that happened). SsangYong soon went bust and got bought up by Daewoo, who also went bust.
It utilised Mercedes-Benz engine designs made under license by SsangYong. Those engines being the M111 straight 4, M104 straight six, OM601 straight 4 diesel and OM602 straight 5 diesel in naturally aspirated and turbo variants.
Why shouldn’t I buy one?
Oh boy, where do I start? I suppose with the engines, first of all, they’re not that great. The straight 5 turbo diesel is about 1/3 too small for everyday driving. In “normal” mode, you press the accelerator down a very long way and eventually the turbocharger wakes up, yawns, rubs its eyes, stretches then starts producing power, though you could probably get in a few verses of “Rule Britannia” before any real movement is achieved. In “power” mode though, it’s pretty alright provided you keep the revs up high. Try overtaking from low revs on even the slightest of inclinations and it’ll leave your heart pounding with adrenaline as the car in the opposite lane moves closer and closer and nearly two tonnes of Korean steel edges forward with the gentle grace of an ocean liner with about the same amount of speed. The petrol engines give more immediate response at all revs, but remember, they’re Mercedes engines made under license by SsangYong, that means you have all the reliability of SsangYong with all of the affordability of Mercedes parts. Isn’t that just wonderful? I thought so.
In a straight line, the steering is very vague and wandery, exactly what you want in a modern car, right? Erhm….yeah.
How’s the suspension? Well, even on reasonably good, sealed roads, the Musso rides like a boat in choppy seas, any thoughts of it being remotely car-like disappear when you reach your first corner. Body roll is better than an old Land Rover, possibly, but still considerable and much worse than on similar SUVs. Hitting a tight bend after a straight section of road? Yeah, this thing handles like a truck with a full swimming pool in the back.
What’s that? The Hilux failed the Elk Test? Pffffft, try failing a simple braking test. Although the brakes work decently in normal conditions, it does not brake in a straight line under emergency braking. The brakes are very uneven and pulls very hard to one side on a flat, smooth road. There are cases of these swerving to the side and flipping over under “straight” braking.
Build quality? What’s that? The doors don’t line up vertically with each other and definitely don’t line up with the body panels. Interior bits and pieces start coming adrift from new. Gearbox whines are commonplace. You’ll be lucky if your wipers don’t just stop working on its own accord, then you’ll have faint twitches whenever you try to use them. In the English JD Power reliability survey, it scored 97th out of 120.
Are there any redeeming features?
Well…it’s rather decent off-road, even though the low ride height and large overhangs aren’t ideal.
It can run on homemade bio-diesel, if that’s your thing, one upside of Mercedes designed diesels.
This content was originally posted by a Car Throttle user on our Community platform and was not commissioned or created by the CT editorial team.